Two Letters

November 14, 2012 -

John Heald

Five straight sea days and meetings with frumpy guests and hosting loads of shows and activities and meeting guests, so many guests who are having the time of their lives is both rewarding but ………….sodding exhausting, as well. Usually a cruise will have one or maybe two sea days and then a port here we have five straight sea days and my job is to pack as much in as I can to those five sea days and be visible as much as possible and that’s what I am doing. There are sacrifices with this such as now because as I sit here in my underpants writing this blog the clock says it’s 6:43 am and I long to return to my bed and to return to the dream I was having about me, a naked Latvian supermodel and Calvyn dressed as a French maid.

Yep, the energy level needed to be a CD on a trans-Atlantic is at the top of the dial and I am doing my very, very best. But there is no escaping it……I am 47 years old …and in two months’ time I will be 48 years old….oh, FFS! And examining myself this morning it is quite obvious that age is not being a good mate. My hair is as grey as an elephant’s scrotum and now I seem to have forests of hairs of the same colour sprouting from my nose. In fact there are enough hairs to have them braided in Nassau or for Rapunzel to use to escape from her tower. Sigh…..I guess it won’t be long before my bladder will cease to function. I am already making old man noises when I get out of bed in the morning or rise from a sitting position……”Ohhhhahhh,” I heard myself say this morning when I got up off the toilet, although in my defense I had been sitting there for 20 minutes.

But the greatest fear I face is not that I might lose the ability to reach the toilet in time or lose my hearing…….nope……..it’s that I might lose my sense of humour (spelt correctly). It’s all I have after all, and as a cruise director and as a husband, it’s the only weapon I have in my locker. After all, I know I’m as an ugly as a septic arse boil and if I lose my sense of humour…….. I am well and truly buggered. It was the same at school. I knew that as ugly as I was what with my hooked nose and bent tooth that my chances of rumpy pumpy with anything female with a pulse were probably bugger all. The only way round this was to try and make the girls laugh. And so, while the girls stood on the side of the soccer pitch staring at the muscles of the three-legged sports jocks, I was standing nearby telling a joke about Margaret Thatcher and a dwarf or doing my impression of Elvis taking a poo. This is the last, and, indeed only, resort of the ugly.

But it never ever got me any rumpy pumpy, in fact a Tibetan monk with syphilis would have gotten more than me back then. Funny is good. Funny will not get you rumpy pumpy. Seriously, let me ask the lady bloggers here. Ladies, do you look at Steve Martin or John Cleese and think “I want some of that”? ……….. No, you don’t…. and what about Jay Leno or David Letterman or Eddie Murphy or Ben Stiller? I mean come on. It’s nice that so many people enjoy reading this blog thingy……but do any of you think I am George Clooney in a fat suit? Luckily, despite the hair in my nose, the beach ball in my stomach and the hemorrhoids in my bottom I still have my sense of humour (spelt correctly) and despite the hard work that this trans-Atlantic cruise has brought I would not have wanted to miss it. I wish a couple of the guests had bloody well missed it though including this one.

From: BREEZE GUEST SERVICES
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 8:44 PM
To: BREEZE CRUISE DIRECTOR; BREEZE GUEST SERVICES MANAGER
Cc: BREEZE GUEST SERVICES SUPERVISOR; BREEZE GUEST SERVICES
Subject: RE: ****-Mr. **** upset about TV and BHTF

Good day,
Mr. ——– came back today, this time insisting to speak to you, John. This is the guest that was upset about the TV not working. I explained to him that there will not be any coverage until Wednesday night as there is no satellite in this area and now he wants free internet. Mr_____ also wants a full refund for his Behind the Fun tour because he says it was not worth the money. Please can you call him again, John?
Thank you and best regards,

Guest Services Associate, Carnival Breeze
Carnival Cruise Lines

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!!

Time for today’s Q and A…………….off we go.

Brendan Maloney asked:

Can you tell me where Ron Pass will be in January? We were on Carnival Breeze with you and Ron in August and it was the best cruise ever. We are looking to know if Ron will be on your bloggers cruise because with you both there we would definitely consider booking.

John says:
Hello Brendan Maloney,

Thanks for the kind words and Ron really is fantastic, isn’t he? I can’t say for certain but it’s looking good for Ron to be with us for BC6. I certainly want him here and, hopefully, he will defiantly commit in the days ahead. I hope that means I will see you here and I promise we will have a wonderful time.

Best wishes.

John

Diane Shepherd asked:

I’m “Breezing” in April 2013 and am flying in the day before – are there any hotels within walking distance of the port? If not, I need to find one that does port shuttles. Thanks so much for any assistance.

John says:
Hello Diane Shepherd,

The ship will soon be in Miami and we will be ready to give you a great time. There are no hotels in walking distance but many have shuttle service to the port. I always stay at the Marriott at Biscayne Bay which has wonderful views of the port and is a five-minute drive to the terminal. I hope this helps you and please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes.

John

Barb asked:

Love your blog!! I’m a Platinum cruiser. My first cruise was on the Mardi Gras…the second one ever. I owned a small travel agency in South Jersey and we were Carnival addicts. It was always our first choice for our clients…and we did at least two groups a year. As Carnival added more ships, we had more choices. Over those 12 years or so, I probably averaged three a year and at least two for myself alone. In those days, Bob Dickinson was the sales manager in New York…and his staff of reps was wonderful……always willing to help us smaller agencies sell cruises on their growing company. Those were the days when Micky Arison would show up once in awhile unannounced to “check things out”……..and a few times “drinks were on the house” for some hours… Anyway, I digress. When Carnival started its VIP program, I was thrilled. I dug around trying to find “proof” of past cruises figuring I was an instant milestone. Alas, I rarely kept momentos and such during those hard working years. I was able to come up with enough to push me into the VIP crowd…and boy, have I ever enjoyed it. VIP check-in has always been my favorite. Anyway, I think 14 or 15 are showing on my account .…….haven’t checked in awhile. Cruising two sometimes three times a year, was good……and I started taking my grandson once a year from age of about nine until 17…..he “grew up” in the kids programs and, boy, he enjoyed it all. He’s 22 now and on a different sort of ship serving in the Navy!

Here’s my question. For the past almost two years, family issues, a bit of a financial crush and a minor health problem has prevented me from cruising… My last was on the wonderful Carnival Pride in Jan 2011 with my daughter. “Things” have improved nicely and I am searching once again for my next cruise. I’m very price conscious, living now on a “fixed” income of retirement ……….and I must have an unobstructed balcony…and I travel solo…….so cost is primary. I’m looking for New York and Baltimore again. Saves airfare for me…and I really don’t care where the ship is headed; I just want to be ON it. I’m concerned about keeping my Platinum status and am asking you if I will be “kicked” out after going almost two years without a cruise under my belt. I’d HATE that….Can you assure me I’ll still be in there? Or will you disappoint me
by saying I’ll be gone…..Fingers crossed.

Barb

John says:
Hello Barb,

First of all a huge thanks to you for your loyalty and I am sorry to read of the bumps that have stopped you from cruising. I hope you have nothing but health and happiness in the future. I see that your records show that you have 14 past sailings with 85 VIFP points which makes you Platinum and you cannot lose that status. I hope you will look at Carnival Pride from Baltimore or even Carnival Splendor from New York next year. I will be here to help you decide if you need me and, again, I wish you many more cruises.

Best wishes.

John

Vicky Carmichael asked:
Hi John,

We are booked to cruise on the Carnival Splendor on April 23, 2013. My husband and I are taking our four kids with us, and they are not soda drinkers. Besides iced tea and water, is there anything else (lemonade/fruit punch?)my kids can drink, free of charge during the day? I don’t want to start a soda habit, if I can help it.

Thanks.

Vicky.

John says:
Hello Vicky,

Yes, indeed, there is non-carbonated lemonade, juice and water free 24 hours on Lido Deck. I hope that helps and I am here if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful cruise.

Best wishes to you all.

John

Rick Brensinger asked:
John,

I recently returned from the Carnival Freedom and I just wanted to tell you about the wonderful experience that I had. The crew was phenomenal and went out of their way to take care of our every need. James in the Habana Bar was great but there was one thing that really stands out to me. We sailed on the Carnival Valor back in April and met a great man by the name of Nenad Kerkez and he really made our sailing a great time. When we boarded the Carnival Freedom went right up to the pool bar and there was Nenad greeting my wife and I by name and it made us feel so special. Please pass along this note of his great service. We also participated in the Behind the Fun tour and Captain Bovo was great, as well. This is one of the many reasons why we continue to choose Carnival over the competitors (eight cruises in four years). Also, John, thanks for keeping us up to date on all Carnival news and I LOVE THE BLOG!! We hope to join you next year on the Carnival Legend!

Cheers!

John says:
Hello Rick Brensinger,

Thanks so very much for this wonderful review and I will take great pride in sending your kind words to the ship. I see you enjoyed the Behind The Fun Tour and that is also good news. I hope we will see you again very soon and if there is anything I can do, let me know and, again, thanks for taking the time to write.

Best wishes.

John

Wesley Bermudes asked:

My parents will be joining me when we cruise on the Carnival Paradise. They are originally from Portugal and speak no English at all which is why I need a Portuguese or Brazilian waiter and cabin service attendant. We are all booked under the reference number **** and in cabins M112 and M118

John says:
Hello Wesley Bermudes,

I see that you are sailing in December and so I have some time to arrange this however I cannot promise that we will be able to help. We have very few staff from Brazil and Portugal who work in the guest service areas. However, I will certainly do my very best to help arrange this. Regardless, we do have menus printed in Portuguese for your parents to order from. I wish you all a great time.

Best wishes.

John

Susan Doneus asked:

We have a large and important Cruise Critic group cruising on the Glory 11/26/12. Most of the members are very nice people but a few have invaded our roll call and are causing problems with their threats and threatening behavior. We are organizing a meet and greet and need the ship to provide a security person or at least someone from the Carnival staff to be present and to check members at the door and to be on hand to break up any problems. We are really concerned about this and hope Carnival will do the right thing and help us with security.

John says:
Hello Susan Doneus,

I think I answered a question about this on Facebook last week although I can’t remember if it was you or not. Anyway, I am sorry to hear that your Cruise Critic meeting is having problems and obviously I hope you can sort them out before the cruise. Unfortunately, we can’t have a staff member or security person pulled from their already full schedules to police a meet and greet. I am sure you understand and hopefully things will be OK. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes.

John

Linda Nengel asked:
Hi John,

My hubby and I are sailing with three other couples on the Carnival Liberty, Dec. 8 sailing. We all purchased the FTTF a while back except for one couple because they just booked and it is sold out. I fear it will be a real issue if one couple in our group will always be waving goodbye to the rest of us, (embarkation, YTD, etc). If some other passenger cancels their FTTF will it show up again as being available to purchase? I keep checking Miami excursions to see if any have become available. Not sure if our three couples should all cancel so we can all be together or hope for a cancellation. Should I keep checking excursions?

John says:
Hello Linda Nengel,

I am sorry to say there is little I can do here as we only sell limited tickets for the Faster To The Fun option and checking my records I do see that the December 8 cruise is indeed sold out. I doubt anyone will cancel but I am sure once you are all on board that you will all have fun together so don’t worry too much. If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know

Best wishes to all.

John

Walt & Betty Gallahan asked:
John,

Enjoy your column. We sailed on Carnival Freedom end of July. Last July while on Carnival Freedom, my wife lost her mother. Carnival treated us extremely well. We booked the same ship (diff destination) same cabin. CD Brad Calabrase was our CD, and we mentioned last year’s cruise to him. He was so kind and thoughtful, Carnival should be proud to have him! We are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary with a cruise on the Carnival Dream 12/1/12, our 8th. Keep up the good work and hope to see you sometime on the seas!

John says:
Hello Walt & Betty Gallahan,

Firstly, let me say how sorry I am to read of your wife’s loss and my condolences to you and the family. I am so happy to read that you are returning to cruise with Brad and I know he will be so proud when he sees these wonderful words of praise. I am sure this cruise will be the best yet and I wish you the most wonderful time.

Best wishes.

John

Carl McVicker asked:

My wife and I just returned from the Carnival Spirit to Hawaii, trip was great and Stu Dunn exceptional. Entertainment excellent, especially 10 piece show band.

John says:
Hello Carl Mcvicker,

That is wonderful to read. I know Stu has worked hard to get the ship ready for her Australian cruising so I am glad to see that this hard work has been recognized. I, too, love the big bands and I hope we see you again very soon.

Best wishes

John

Simon Woods asked:
Hello John!

Carnival does not seem to be a very gay friendly cruise line from what others have told me and from what I have read on line. I am cruising with my partner Gareth on the Carnival Splendor 12/16 and I need to make sure that you have organized activities for us. Other cruise lines have areas set aside only for gays and lesbian passengers and where people not of that lifestyle are not allowed entrance. I am interested to know if this is something Carnival does and if not why. I am sure carnival wants to dump the label of being a non gay friendly cruise company, right?

John says:
Hello Simon Woods,

Well it is hard to dump a label that you do not have because, respectfully, we certainly do not have that label and never have had. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago the wonderful Atlantis company had a huge group of gay and lesbian guests on the ship that you will in fact be on, the Carnival Splendor, and reports are that they all had a brilliant time. Each ship will have a nightly mention in the Fun Times which is our on board activity program and it will list “Friends of Dorothy” which will indicate where you should meet. I am afraid that we don’t have a place where we set aside a lounge or bar privately for gay and lesbian guests as we don’t have a lounge to spare for any one group and not allow the rest of the ship to attend. I am sure you will have a wonderful time and I hope that you enjoy this wonderful ship.

Best wishes.

John

That’s all for today.

It feels like all I have been doing this past few days is highlighting the negative comments from guests and I guess I should explain myself a bit. First of all, and most importantly, out of 3,649 guests on board, 3,600 are having a brilliant time. They love the food, the service, the shows, the fun and they love being at sea for five straight days. Second of all, and nearly as important, is the honest fact that if I was to write only about nice comments where a guest says “We enjoyed the show” or reported that their biggest complaint was a five-minute wait to get seated at Your Time Dining this blog wouldn’t have had 15 million plus views and you would all be reading 50 Shades of Grey instead. But there are some grumpy people on the ship, just as right now on an RCI ship or a Celebrity ship or a Princess ship that are all on longer cruises and crossings there are for sure some grumpy sods on board.

I am not going to comment further on this but instead just want to post three the other day I wrote in a blog about how different guests have different opinions about what we do on board and here be possibly the finest example of this. These two letters were written by guests to me here on the Carnival Breeze, both by ladies, actually, who have such different opinions on one specific event we did on Monday. Here they are:

I have to say that the negative letter is particularly upsetting to me because I know it meant so much to so many but is proof absolute positive that as a cruise director, especially it seems on a trans-Atlantic cruise, you are never going to please everyone. I am not going to comment further on this because this lady is entitled to an opinion so I will simply say in closing that it is an opinion that took me totally by surprise.

I will tell you that I met with the author of the letter about her son and we sat with her husband and I witnessed firsthand the tsunami of grief that comes with losing a son in such tragic circumstances and she and her husband will remain in my thoughts for a long, long time.

In Monday’s blog, I mentioned a guest who said she was legally blind and wanted a reserved seat at the shows. I was willing, of course, to do this but she wanted the rest of her party of eight to have reserved seats too at the show. When I said I could not do this she then said the other guests who were traveling with her were legally blind too. After much thought about this and short of me getting each of them to stand in front of an eye chart, there was little I could do. Maybe I should have had an eye chart at the entrance to the show room.

S
OD
B U G G E R
H 8 2 S E A U GO
O H F F S
B L I N D M Y A R S E

But I can’t do this so instead I gave them two lots of four on different sides of the showroom which they used last night, I really had no choice, did I?

So some may think, in this case, that my job is not very pleasant but compared to any jobs in the world I am still a very lucky fat old bugger to have this job. It could be much worse, I could be a basketball referee. I say that because the new season starts soon and, of course, the Miami Heat are attempting to repeat as champions. Now I love basketball and hope to be able to catch a game when I am in Miami and during the games I have been privileged to see I have always marveled at how much crap a basketball referee takes and how his or her ……there are female refs now …… job is not a pleasant and cheery one. First of all you have to tuck your shirt so tight into your pants that you can see the burger they had for lunch that day. Their pants are also tight, so tight that even from the top of the stadium you can see a herd of camels and their toes sweeping majestically inside them. Then if and when you make a mistake and call something for the other team you know that every single person in the entire stadium would like to see you tied naked to the basketball hoop while the teams mascot throws full bottles of Gatorade at your dangly bits.

Imagine if this happened in your job. Imagine if you were an accountant and everyone in the office working with you was allowed to scream at you the way fans scream at the referees. Imagine them telling you loudly and constantly that you were “s**t and screaming, “Call that a spread sheet, you f*****g idiot!

Yep, I have some unhappy guests this cruise who dislike me very much and one has even heckled me from balcony of the Ovation Theatre. But while basketball referees and I have little in common we do have one thing that binds us together and that is the indifference to the opinions of other people and carry on regardless with the decision that we think is right. So today I salute basketball referees and praise their decisions and their professionalism. Except if they make a wrong call against the Miami Heat which, in that case,……. they are total bastards.

Goodnight.

Your friend,

John

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.